The cost of not going to a state university

12 February 2017 - 17:54 By Taschica Pillay
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
The Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. File photo
The Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. File photo

An aspiring Durban law student will have to win all his court cases to pay back his parents who are forking out thousands for him to study at a private tertiary university.

Thousands of parents and students are having to dig deep to pay for private tertiary instituations as full house signs go up at public universities around the country.

Only two of out 10 pupils from the matric class of 2016 were able to register at South Africa's 24 public universities leaving thousands of other students to pursue their careers at private facilities.

One former Durban High School pupil who wanted to study law will be paying R72‚500 for his first year of Bachelor of Law at Varsity College’s Durban North campus‚ which is about R30‚000 more than what he would have paid at the University of KwaZulu-Natal‚ had he been accepted.

The teenager's father‚ who did not want to be named‚ said while he had tried to financially prepare for his son’s university education‚ he didn't take into account the demand for spaces at public universities and that he would have to consider a private college.

His son who scored Bs and Cs in his matric exam‚ applied timeously at the University of Johannesburg‚ University of Pretoria and University of KwaZulu-Natal to study B Comm Law but was rejected at UKZN and UP.

“UJ came back with his second choice which was psychology. I think it was a matter of space and children who did far better than him got place‚” he said.

The father said they decided to leave the choice to his son‚ who decided to study at Varsity College in Durban.

“Had he chosen to go to UJ to study psychology it would not only be the tuition and accommodation costs‚ but one had to take into account all the other incidental expenses. For every exercise one starts you have to work on a budget. We left the decision to him and said to him whichever he does we would support him.

“UKZN was between R40‚000 and R45‚000 while Varsity College is R72‚500 this year just for the tuition. We still need to buy the textbooks and maybe additional stationery or technology.

“Just the fee comparison is a huge difference‚” he said.

According to private institutions Varsity College and Monash South Africa‚ a B Comm law degree for first year students costs R72‚500 and R79‚900 respectively. At Wits the average tuition fees in the faculty of commerce‚ law and management ranges from R44‚740 to R51‚380 and approximately R39‚170 for B Comm Law at UKZN.

Louise Wiseman‚ of the Independent Institute of Education and managing director at Varsity College‚ said a recent consumer survey showed that their good academic reputation‚ their choice of courses‚ the location of their campuses‚ the credibility of their qualifications as well as small class sizes accounted for their high registration rate. "We have been on a growth trajectory for our brands for the past three to five years and this has not changed." Wiseman said the fact that they were not state subsidised and that fees were their only form on income‚ resulted in their higher costs.

Pietermaritzburg student‚ Muhammed Seepye‚ said he chose to go to Varsity College to study B Comm financial management because of their smaller class sizes.

"We don't have the worry of strikes and disruptions in lectures.Students are forced to attend lectures as there is a register which is signed‚" said Seepye.

Dr Nic Spaull‚ an education researcher at Stellenbosch University‚ said between 2009 and 2016 the number of matric students that graduated and were eligible for university increased from about 100‚000 to more than 160‚000. “That was a more than 60% increase. At the same time university enrolment has only expanded by about five to 10 percent. In this context it’s not surprising that the private sector has expanded to absorb some of the demand for higher education‚” said Spaull.

Private school operator Curro‚ which has a teacher training college in Embury‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ will be opening two new higher education institutions in Midrand and Pretoria. A bachelor of education at Embury this year costs approximately R57‚000‚ which includes study material. This is opposed to about R33‚850 at UKZN and an average of R32‚030 for tuition fees at Wits.



Courses that received the most applications:

Bachelor of Science received 16 807 applications

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery received 12 090 applications

Bachelor of Education received 15 676 applications

Bachelor of Social Work received 8 292 applications

Bachelor of Arts received 6 985 applications


Stellenbosch University

Courses that received the most applications:

MBChB (Medicine) received more than 4200 applications for 250 spaces.

Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences‚ the Bachelor of Accounting and the various BComm programmes received more than 3700 applications


University of Western Cape

Courses that received the most applications:

EMS‚ Community Health Sciences and Natural Science Faculties


Courses that receive the least applications:

Faculty of Dentistry


University of KwaZulu-Natal

Courses that received the most applications:

School of Education received 13 700

Medicine received 6 200 applications

Nursing received 11 750

Social Work received 10 250

Pharmacy received 8 160

Dental Therapy received 7 433


University of Pretoria

Courses that received the most applications:

Faculty of Engineering‚ Built Environment and IT received 8032 applications


Courses that receive the least applications:

Theology received 233 applications


University of Zululand

Courses that received the most applications:

B Ed Further Education & Training: Life Orientation & Language received 15891

B Nursing Science received 12258

B A Correctional Studies received 10889

B Ed Early Childhood Development: Foundation Phase received 10027

B Ed Further Education & Training: Geography & Language received 7693

Bachelor Law received 7203


Courses that received the least applications:

B Sc Chemistry with Physics as Major 2

B Sc Hydrology with Microbiology as Major 2

B Sc Computer Science with Statistics as Major 2

B Sc Biochemistry with Zoology as Major 2

B Sc Sports Science


Varsity College

Courses that received most applications:

Bachelor of Commerce (BCom)

Bachelor of Commerce (Law)

Bachelor of Education in Foundation Phase Teaching

Bachelor of Education in Intermediate Phase Teaching

Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

* information supplied by the institutions

- TMG Digital/The Times

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now